China is a beautiful country, and no doubt the Olympic games will focus on that beauty and remarkable history of their culture, along with the thrill of competition. The Olympics are a time we all look forward to: The tremendous athletes, life-changing stories and the adrenaline of victory. But there is a dark side to this year’s Olympic games. As the best athletes in the world congregate in Beijing, it’s pivotal to know China is home to some of the world’s most vicious human and religious rights violations.
There are four main reasons Open Doors USA has called for a boycott of 2022 Olympic Games.
1. Squelching dissent
China is a communist country, and its government has a history of using force and pressure to achieve its agenda and goals. That means squelching anything outside of what it interprets to be in the best interest of the nation, including religions like Christianity.
It remains illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to attend church. Along the same line, church youth groups have been outlawed and young Christians are warned not to share their faith at school; if they do, their graduation could be denied. In addition, because of personal church attendance, military personnel have been given the ultimatum of renouncing Christ or leaving their job. The old truth that churches would only be perceived as a threat if they became too large, too political or invite foreign guests is now an outdated guideline.
Christian leaders can be a main target of government surveillance, and a very small number have been abducted. “They are simply snatched away,” says an Open Doors source, “only to appear months later in a kind of house arrest, where they get re-educated.’’ In some areas in China, Christian leaders are on a type of probation, where they’re required to check-in regularly with police and report their activities, or face the consequences. China is No. 17 on this year’s World Watch List and it’s easy to see why.
3. Shocking human rights violations
Sadly, China’s human rights violations go much further than the persecution of Christians. According to The Washington Post, “Starting in 2017, China carried out a sweeping crackdown in its northwest Xinjiang region under the banner of counterterrorism. It was a harsh campaign to forcibly assimilate the Uyghur population, a mostly Muslim ethnic minority group native to Xinjiang. Scholars estimate that Chinese authorities detained more than 1 million Uyghurs in centers and re-education camps.”
Uyghurs are a native people in China’s northwestern region. Although China is predominately atheist, the Uyghurs are traditionally Muslims, which automatically tags them as a threat to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). In these camps, Uyghurs have been jailed, and there have been reports of rape, violence, sterilization, torture and even forced organ harvesting—all at the hands of the government. The CCP continues to deny any wrongdoing.
4. It’s a global effort
At Open Doors, we believe in freedom of religion for everyone, and that anyone should be able to practice their religion in a peaceful way without intrusion. The CCP does not; they continue to strongly persecute Christians, Uyghurs and others simply because they believe differently.
In the book of Hebrews, we’re told to remember those who are suffering for Jesus as if we, ourselves, were suffering. As Christ-followers, we’re a family of believers. We have brothers and sisters in each and every country around the globe. It’s because we’re a family, where we feel for each other and carry each other’s burdens, that we urge you to boycott this year’s Olympics.
Open Doors isn’t the only organization calling for a boycott of the games. In fact, over 180 human rights groups wrote a joint letter urging a boycott, including Humanitarian China, Free Tibet and World Uyghur Congress. Entire countries are also diplomatically boycotting the Olympics: The United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, and Lithuania (among others) have decided to forgo the tradition of sending government officials or representatives. The Olympics are traditionally a time to set aside differences and honor sport and competition, but more and more countries and organizations are responding to China’s human rights record with boycotts.
China is a critical piece in our global economy, and although they are an incredible people and culture, we cannot reward the CCP’s brutal and oppressive behavior. Make no doubt about it, the Chinese government will be scanning social media, watching global TV ratings and reading articles on how other countries perceive them. By boycotting the Olympics, we’re showing the CCP we know what they’re doing—and that we can’t agree with it.
Whether you choose to boycott or not, let’s continue to be a voice for the voiceless and take action. Share articles on China’s atrocities and spread the truth on social media about what is actually happening behind closed doors. Have discussions with your families, small groups, and church leaders about ways to help the persecuted in China. And maybe more than anything—pray.
Pray for our brothers and sisters in China, for their safety and ability to practice freely. Pray for the Uyghur community, for their peace and overall well-being. And pray for the CCP, that they will see the error in their ways, loosen their grip and become a party where freedom of religion is not only tolerated, but encouraged. We pray to a God of miracles.
To stay in-the-loop on immediate prayer requests and news, click here to learn how to download the Open Doors Prayer App. To give and help support our family-in-Christ living in China and other restrictive countries, click here.
Top photo: Shutterstock ID 408314965. BEIJING, CHINA – MAR 25, 2016: Symbol for the Winter Olympic Games in 2022, Olympic object in Beijing, China. It was built for the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008.